THE doors to the Goddard Arms swung open once more last night at its grand opening following a £2m refurbishment.

The Old Town landmark on High Street shut down on August 31, 2007 and was sold off to a then-unnamed property developer.

But after more than two years of lifelessness the 16th century building was revived by the Barracuda Group, which has transformed the Grade II listed main building into a 11-bedroom hotel with a restaurant and bar.

Assistant manager Danny Cocker said: “It has been a lot of work and one huge rush to get open in time for Christmas but it is great to see people in here enjoying themselves.

“I wasn’t here when it closed down but in the last few weeks I have spoken to countless people, all very happy that there is life in the Goddard again.”

The hotel has been a landmark in Swindon for more than 300 years.

A building first appeared on the Goddard Arms site in 1249 and was an inn frequented by pig farmers and sheep drovers who used it as a place to rest and quench their thirst on market days.

In the late 1500s a thatched inn called The Crowne was built on the site and in the 1620s the inn was bought by Thomas Goddard, Lord of the Manor of High Swindon. He later went on to rename it in honour of his family.

By the late 18th Century the low thatched building had been destroyed by fire and, with the pig trade expanding and the old market town becoming more prosperous, a larger coaching inn was built on the site.

The building was re-named once more in 2005 when the restaurant was given a facelift and changed to the Buccleuch Grill.

Mayor David Wren, who cut the ribbon to the hotel last night, said he was over the moon when he heard the Goddard Arms was to reopen.

“I was even happier to hear it was keeping its name,” he said.

“The Goddard Arms is a name synonymous with Old Town, it is a much loved landmark and one of Swindon’s most treasured buildings. To have people in here once more, eating drinking and enjoying themselves is exceptionally good news for Swindon.”